Sunday, May 27, 2012

Do not Quench the Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me so, O Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.

As Christians, we live, not naturally, but supernaturally. The Holy Spirit lives in us to lead us, guide us, love us and transform us. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19 it says:
"Do not quench the Spirit."
I was thinking about this passage and it is clear that we CAN put out the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Unconfessed sin is like pouring water over the fire of the Spirit, especially grievous sin. Our lives were meant to be lived knitted to the Spirit. He is the Advocate promised by Jesus. Nothing separates us more from God than sin...unconfessed sin. Even venial sin gradually begins to harden our hearts and leave us less open to the inspirations of the Spirit. Verse 22 goes on to say:
"Refrain from every kind of evil."
That a big request. EVERY kind of evil. Lack of charity, lies, unjust anger (let's face it - most anger is unjust). This is why regular confession is important. Ask the Holy Spirit for light and confess your sins. I go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation about once a month on average and I also ask forgiveness immediately during the course of the day if I've noticed I have sinned. This seems to keep the Holy Spirit shining brightly in my soul. Confession pleases Him. Prayer helps, too.

"Lord who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully, kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit. Take away from me this heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee, to follow and to enjoy Thee, for Christ's sake. Amen"
                                              St. Gregory? (Does anyone know who wrote this lovely little prayer?)


  1. St Augustine wrote the prayer.

  2. Unconfessed sin is a powerful fire extinguisher and one that can be used so subtly by us and the Enemy.
    I have no idea who wrote the second prayer you quoted but it does sound a bit Augustine-ish as well. In any case, they are both good prayers to say to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit strong and bright in our souls.
    Thanks for sharing them, Mary.
    PS- one of my verification words is actually Scripture! Go figure :)

  3. Hi Mary,
    I just saw that on the Community of Catholic Bloggers. Karin had it up. Did St. Augustine write the bottom prayer too?

    Thank you for the inspiration for my last post. Your post Wisdom and Understanding inspired me to think about the excuses I make in my own life.

  4. Karin,
    You and Randy always get the good ones :) Most of the word verifications now are

  5. "Nothing separates us more from God than sin...unconfessed sin."

    Oh Mary ... this is getting me very confused now.

    We've discussed unconfessed repeat venial sins on my Blog. So ... does the Holy Spirit descend on us when we're "good" and leaves us after every venial sin? And when we confess them (privately or in Confession once a week/month) the Holy Spirit is within us again until the next venial sin which is not so far away!

    Surely He is not and on/off on/off Holy Spirit like an electric switch?

    God bless.

  6. AMEN! What a prayer! Blessings dear one.

  7. Hi Victor,
    No, I don't think the Holy Spirit comes and goes that easily. But I do think regular Confession is important. I feel lighter after confessing my sins and I believe it pleases God when I go.
    I wrote this a couple of years ago but wanted to put a post about the Holy Spirit up for Pentecost. I really do think grave sins grieve the Holy spirit and that unconfessed deliberate venial sins gradually harden the heart. This happened to me when I was young - I stopped going to Confession, my heart grew hard and I fell into mortal sin. I am very blessed that the Lord plucked me out of the pit and I don't want to ever fall into that again. It snuck up on me so gradually and finally I couldn't feel the Lord's sweet presence anymore. It was the most awful period of my life. Like living in total darkness.

    I don't think the Lord is petty and keeps a list of sins to hang over our heads but I do think people have to be watchful.

    I really did have a heart of stone like in the prayer at the bottom of my post. God's grace is my support and graces are poured out upon us when we confess our sins. The sins we spoke about on your blog were minor compared to mortal sin and the constant deliberate venial sins that I used to commit before God turned me toward Him.

    I'm confused now too :) But I do know that God loves chocoholics!

    To make it even more confusing: According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church venial sins are forgiven when we receive Communion.
    Still, I was taught we can receive graces to overcome sins we commit over and over through Confession. Maybe it just doesn't work on chocoholics because God likes chocolate :)

    God bless you, Victor. (If you don't kill me

  8. Hi Grace! I hope you are having a good weekend and that your bird is feeling better! God bless you too, my friend!

  9. Mary, I have felt called in the past few years to promote confession. For one thing, it is a sacrament after all, an opportunity to receive more graces and experience God's merciful love.
    And I think a lot of people are afraid to go to confession or feel embarrassed like they are the only ones who ever sin. Many lack trust in God's mercy.
    As far as your conversation with Victor goes, I love how he makes us explain ourselves further!
    I also think it is important that people understand that while sin separates us from God, it is us turning away, not God. God never leaves.
    Thanks for making us think.

  10. Hi Colleen,
    Thanks for your comment. I know you are a spiritual director so I think your input is important to those of us who get dazed and confused by some of the things that don't make logical sense but DO make spiritual sense. I liked your remark about Confession, the graces and experiencing God's merciful love! And about us turning away and never God.

    God bless!

  11. Mary,

    What you say makes sense.

    Let me explain. Years ago I knew a priest who was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was always peaceful, calm, full of Faith and nothing but nothing would stir him. His advice was always sound and based on Christ. I told him once he is the nearest person to Christ I've ever met. (I based Fr Ignatius in my books on this priest).

    Now being human, this priest must have committed venial sins, like we all do. But the Holy Spirit never left him. He was always the same Saint walking this earth.

    I agree with you that God is not petty and will not hold venial sins against us. He knows our weakness in this respect. What I did NOT know is that venials are forgiven when we take Communion - i.e. no need for Confession beforehand.

    This being the case; is it OK NOT to go to Confession when I have only the same repeat venials?

    Most of us don't do mortals, do we?

    I've answered (I think) your points on my Blog.

    God bless.

  12. Thanks for this post Mary. And you know what, aside from confession and asking for forgiveness, reading blogs like yours (and many who comment here) also helps me feel connected to God!

    I think the reminder Colleen wrote is really important: It is us that turn away ... not God.

    God Bless.

  13. Victor,
    No doubt there are some people on earth who are so responsive to the grace of God that they are already living heaven in their hearts like the priest you based Fr. Ignatius on. I wonder how often he went to Confession? Priests go a lot I think.

    I receive Communion a number of times a week during daily Mass but I go to Confession once a month (on average) for the graces available in that Sacrament. Is it absolutely necessary? Maybe not. Is it a good thing? Yes, for sure :) I know people who go once a week too. But I also know people who barely ever go because they don't commit mortal sins so they think it's a waste of time.
    I'm coming over to see your answer:)

  14. Mary,

    Probably the most important thing your wrote is that ongoing venial sins unconfessed lead to a gradual hardening of heart. Hardened hearts commit mortal sin easily because the conscience is dead. I think of venial sins as being like those things we do in a close relationship that offend or hurt the other person either deliberately (the worst) or by habit. If we really love the other person we don't want to give them pain. If we really love God, we don't want to deliberately offend Him in the slightest, and when we do, whether on purpose or by human weakness, we should tell Him we're sorry and resolve not to do it again.

    The resolution isn't enough, though. We have to ask for the grace to stop the sin. He always gives it, even though we may fall many times over before the sin is eradicated.

    We also have to practice the virtue that is opposite the sin - look for ways to show God we love Him every day.

    We are all sinners. The worst thing we can do is throw our hands up in the air and take the attitude, "What's the use?" Sometimes God allows us to wallow in our weakness as a way of showing us that He is the one who works the miracles of grace in us and not we ourselves.

    I just wrote a comment at Victor's post about Confession that says a little more. So glad you posted this topic. That "Refrain from every kind of sin" is really important even though we know we will fail. Your post and Victor's reminded me that God wants both perseverance and submission from us.

  15. Barb,
    I thought your comment on Victor's post was excellent (as is this one)! It helped me, that's for sure. Thank you for posting it. Sin gets confusing, especially those venial ones that are hard to get rid of. Praying for the grace to stop the sin and practicing the opposite virtue no doubt helps in the cases of those venial sins that like to hang on to us.

    I liked your comment about God allowing us to wallow in our weakness to show that He is the one who works the miracle of grace in us :)

    Thank you and God bless!